Keeping a diary or journal is an invaluable crutch for writers and indeed anyone who wants to keep track of their thoughts. Reading back over the diaries of my own youth (all marked “PRIVITE”) yields such notable entries as a list of elf species I was in the process of discovering, and a rap about (an entirely fictional) scenario in which I found someone dead in the toilet of a cinema. I have of course come on in leaps and bounds since then, and my current journals are, naturally, a veritable treasure trove of deep insights and astounding observations, which can be published posthumously, after I have died very famous and admired.
Anyway, here are extracts from the diaries of some of the world’s most beloved authors, from various times in their lives, that made me laugh. Enjoy.
1. Flannery O’Connor‘s grand statements are nothing short of inspiring. Here’s the closing line of an entry she made at aged twenty-two:
Today I have proved myself a glutton—for Scotch oatmeal cookies and erotic thought. There is nothing left to say of me.
2. Peggy Hughes on Twitter discovered this genuinely hilarious comment from Leo Tolstoy:
25th January 1851 was a busy old day for Tolstoy ? pic.twitter.com/TZAeZ50Vu1
— ? Peggy Hughes ? (@HughesPeg) January 25, 2018
In a section of Jack Kerouac‘s diary in which he bemoans the capitalist machine, my favorite part of which I have helpfully bolded for you, he scathingly writes:
People rush off to meaningless jobs day after day, you see them coughing in the subways at dawn. They squander their souls on things like “rent,” “decent clothes,” “gas and electricity,” “insurance,” behaving like peasants who have just come out of the fields and are so dreadful tickled because they can buy baubles and doodads in stores.
3. I am obsessed with this entry from nine-year-old Ernest Hemingway in which he lists his favorite flowers and speaks of his affinity for trout fishing:
My name is Ernest Miller Hemingway I was born on July 21 1899. My favourite authors are Kipling, O. Henry and Steuart Edward White. My favourite flower is Lady Slipper and Tiger Lily. My favourite sports are Trout fishing, Hiking, shooting, football and boxing. My favourite studies are English, Zoology and Chemistry. I intend to travel and write.
Ernest loves tiger lilies and trout fishing. | Image Via The Ernest Hemingway Collection
4. Virginia Woolf perfectly captures the post-holiday blues in this diary excerpt from 1933:
But of all things coming home from a holiday is undoubtedly the most damned. Never was there aimlessness, such depression. Can’t read, write or think. There’s no climax here. Comfort yes: but the coffee’s not so good as I expected. And my brain is extinct – literally hasn’t the power to lift a pen. What one must do is to set it – my machine I mean – in the rails and give it a push… It occurs to me that this state, my depressed state, is the state in which most people usually are.
5. Sylvia Plath reminding herself not to write about the weather is also very relatable:
Today is the first of August. It is hot, steamy and wet. It is raining. I am tempted to write a poem. But I remember what it said on one rejection slip: After a heavy rainfall, poems titled RAIN pour in from across the nation.
6. This extract from the diary of Anaïs Nin isn’t meant to be funny, but it’s so ~intellectual~ that it made me laugh:
This diary is my kief, hashish, and opium pipe. This is my drug and my vice. Instead of writing a novel, I lie back with this book and a pen, and dream, and indulge in refractions and defractions… I must relive my life in the dream. The dream is my only life. I see in the echoes and reverberations, the transfigurations which alone keep wonder pure.
All right, Anaïs.
Featured Image Via NickALive!